Buugeng and S-Staffs are expressive, S-shaped objects that are spun, juggled, and manipulated to make shapes and illusions. The art of S-Staff borrows many moves from traditional staff spinning, with the inclusion of the curves to create isolation tricks, and hook the prop around the body. The S-Staff requires a lighter touch than traditional staff, as well as rigorously disciplined plane mechanics for isolations. Somewhere between fans, hoops, and staff lies the motion world of buugeng.
The first recorded appearance of the s-shaped staff is on the PBS special, “In Motion with Michael Moschen” (1991) with Michael Moschen. The segment of the performance, sometimes called "Curves," shows Moschen on stage manipulating two S-staves to create persistence of motion shapes and isolation patterns. Moschen is an innovative juggler who has worked with Cirque du Soleil, won the MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant”, and was the contact juggler behind David Bowie’s amazing performance in the film Labyrinth (1986). Since the s-staff shares many characteristics with the Double Deer Horn of Chinese martial arts, it is often presumed to be one of Moschen’s inspirations for the shape and early manipulation techniques, though there is no known evidence of this. Moschen grounded the prop in isolation styles; his influence echoes in the unique charm of the prop.
Dai Zaobab (real name Dai Murata), a well-known Japanese entertainer, first coined the term "buugeng" after seeing "Moschen in Motion" in 2001, then taking and adapting Moschen’s s-shaped staffs into the prop we know today. The name derives from "buu" (Martial Arts) and "geng" (Illusion) in Japanese. Dai began to handcraft and sell his redesign of s-staffs as "buugeng," bringing the art to the wider object manipulation world for the first time. The following is a quote from Dai Zaobab himself:
Ministry of Manipulation, blog article titled “Dai @ Flow Temple (&Moschen)” posted January 11th, 2010 (Read the original article)
At roughly the same time as Dai was distinguishing buugeng from Moschen's S -staff, an American performer named Banyan Gallagher, was developing an s staff for fire. In the emerging flow arts community, Banyan is remembered as the originator of the fire s staff, as well as helping to link buugeng to the fire spinning community.
1990: Michael Moschen receives a MacArthur Genius Fellowship
1991: "In Motion with Michael Motion" debuts on PBS, first recorded instance of s-staff.
2007: Dai wins a photo contest on Home Of Poi, helping to bring buugeng to an even wider audience.
2008: Dai travels to North America.
2009: Temple of Poi's "Fire Dancing Expo" happens in San Francisco-- Dai performs.
2009: Dai teaches at FireDrums, one of the largest and oldest flow arts and firedancing festivals in North America, and the world.
2009: Dai appears in FireGroove's "Fire All-Stars Vol 1"--he is the only one to perform without fire.
2010: Dai travels to Burning Man, introducing many people to the prop.
2011: Buugeng and S Staff Lab is created on Facebook.
2012: Gustavo Ollitta's "FLOW - Manipulação de objetos" video goes viral, bringing buugeng to wider performance consciousness.
2014: Pyroterra (Light Toys) begins retailing led buugeng.
2016: Buugeng Convergence, a festival for buugeng, s staff, and trigeng, happens outside Austin, TX.
2016: Rion Fish's "OctoIllusion" video goes viral.
2016: Kaylie Kreatrix performs in the showcase with buugeng at the European Juggling Convention.
Some Notable Performers: